Hand printing fabric





Hello! I'm currently getting lots of dresses made by the geniuses at Dig for Victory in Brighton, as I'm a mini 4' 10" and fed up with ill fitting clothes. I have also decided that I don't want to wear other people's drawings, and want to wear my own illustrated fabric. I've had some fabric digitally printed with my design from Spoonflower (highly recommend, great quality and price) but I wanted to try hand printing fabric with my linocuts.

Linocutting is my new addiction, I am OBSESSED with this process, it really suits my nerdy attention to detail and I love the physicality of carving the drawing from the lino. I started out with a really cheap Speedball linocutting set but it was really frustrating, more like digging than carving and I couldn't get the crisp lines I was after, so I splurged on two very beautiful swiss tools which glide through the lino like butter. 

The photos above show you what I've been up to, I'm so delighted with how the fabric has turned out and so thought I'd share the process here...

Image 1: I used carbon paper to transfer the image onto a piece of grey lino, I then used a permanent marker to colour in all the sections I wanted to cut away.

Image 2: I cut away all the black areas using my fancy new tools (pictured), and then coloured in the raised botanical design so I could see what I was doing. I then continued to cut away decorative patterns within the plants. Once complete I inked* up and printed the lino onto paper to check and make further changes as required. 

Image 3. Once I was happy with the print I rolled out black ink onto a sheet of glass and then rolled it onto the block. I laid out the (ironed) fabric along the floor in my hall (it's carpeted, if yours isn't put a towel underneath as it was good to have a soft surface, and protect your floors as the ink might bleed through onto the back.) I then placed the block ink side down onto the fabric, covered it with a sheet of newsprint and then a VERY heavy book. I then stood on top of the book bouncing gently all over the book for 2 minutes (bouncing from the knees only - don't let your feet leave the book as you don't want the lino block to shift underneath!)

Image 4: I repeated, repeated and repeated the printing until I was knackered and had 2.5 meters of fabric hand printed. I then left the fabric for 3 days to dry, ironed it on the reverse to set it, left it another 3 days before washing it in the machine, and then ironed it again ready for it to be made into a dress.

*A little word about inks... I tried lots of different inks as I was ideally after a waterbased ink but I found the results of these VERY disappointing and in the end went with an oil based ink from Lawrences which is fantastic and suitable for fabric and paper. It has to be cleaned up with vegetable oil (as I don't like stinking out the studio with solvents) but is worth the extra clean up effort for the quality of this ink.

I hope that this little rambling how-to might be of use to someone, it's mostly for me to be able to remember the process so I can do it again, but maybe it will help someone else too!

Have a fantastic week, and I'll see you next time x


Moongirl said...

I love this post! I have done a bit of printing but not with lino - it's been sitting in my art to-do basket feeling very lonely.

I haven't heard about using carbon paper to transfer the image so I am happy you have mentioned that.

Your lino cuts are beautiful and the fabric looks amazing! Can't wait to see the finished product!

My seeing machine is wanting some action and I think a little print and sew is just what it needs.

Thanks for the inspiration!

Kim said...

I love this! Which 2 tools did you use for your lino cut out? I agree, the speedball cutter is frustrating.

Lovely work!!